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Does your Journey to SAP S/4HANA® start with a maybe?

David Lowson

I interact with a lot of clients and sales teams within Capgemini and certain questions come up time and time again. For example, “Do we use greenfield, bluefield, or brownfield?” “What do we do with Business Warehouse?” “Should we use Ariba?” I suspect I frustrate a lot of them by saying, ““`perhaps.”

When thinking about the correct way to move to SAP S/4HANA  and the future architecture, there are many things to consider. I don’t obsess about engaging in giving advice or selling consultancy studies, but I’m afraid – hand on my heart – that in most cases, the only good answer is “maybe” or “it depends.”

There are always more factors at play and although the likelihood of coming up with the correct answer is higher based on the size of the customer, the industry they work in, and their SAP footprint, there is undoubtably a degree of complexity involved. For example:

  • What to do about BW when we move to SAP S/4HANA®
    ? is a popular question. People want a simple answer, but it depends, among others, on what you do with it at the moment, where the data comes from, and what your vision for data at your enterprise is.
  • Should we migrate or start with a greenfield? It depends on how bespoke your system is, whether you want to transform, whether you are consolidating functions, why you are moving to SAP S/4HANA®
    , what your future roadmap and vision for your business is, and what footprint you have now.

In a small company with a small footprint and little customization, the issue is more likely to be upgrade. Or, if you only use BW for finance reporting and have no extra vision for the future, then maybe you can report in SAP S/4HANA®. But I still think it’s worthwhile to take some time to consider the options, even if you come back to your original choice.

There may be a compelling business event that will change things and invalidate your decision – in which case moving to a flexible architecture that can support different options is perhaps the only good choice you can make, for example capgemini’s #renewableenterprise.

I see many clients closing down their choices too early and potentially blocking the right answer. If you ask in an RFP for a migration, you will usually get a migration and I will be nagged by the account manager for days to be compliant,  if I say I won’t answer and I think there is another way they will tell me I am not answering the question or overcomplicating things , or we may well be simply excluded from the procurement for suggesting an alternative.

I recently received and ITT for a greenfield approach to a migration in a food company wanting a model company agile, not SCP and a particular type of hosting, if we were non-compliant we would be excluded. I would have wanted to answer, a more incremental approach and extra extensions in SCP on top of the model company, but I was repeatedly told to rethink my answers as the scoring was included and we would lose points. Unless they have some superb advisors (and I was not sure of this) they had already written a recipe for a tough project.

If you come out for central finance, is this because it is the best answer, because it is the only thing that will get approval, or because you have an accountant on a mission?

There is also a drive to produce tools that analyze what you have and produce a decision, but I only see these as providing inputs. If a tools says you will save €10m by moving to SAP S/4HANA® , how can you be sure this could not be done with process change and SAP S/4HANA® ?

This is very much a case of repent at your leisure, as the SAP S/4HANA® project business and maturing and many , (I would say close to 50%) of larger projects are reconsidering their approaches and pausing or appointing a new partner. This is often and expensive, time consuming, and confidence-breaking option. In my opinion it is better to consider other options, get the business buy in and achieve consensus, based on a balance of options. It is also good to have opportunities to adjust the approach built into the plan.

I think it is likely you will have SAP S/4HANA®  at the core of your business for the next 25 years. It’s worth thinking this through properly, and if in doubt, leave open options for change if not in the short and long termd.

You may think I am making the choices seem overly complex, but it’s what I believe. If you want to discuss further or have a different opinion please contact me and let’s start a conversation on the strategy ahead and choices which can be made.